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#1 Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 02 Nov 2012, 21:11
by vasanthakokilam
classicallover posted quite an extensive list of sanskrit web sites and links that are focused on spreading and sustaining Sanskrit ( )

That got me thinking. One of the efforts I have seen around here is to teach people spoken Sanskrit without concentrating on grammar. I have not taken that class myself but I know quite a few people who have taken that and acquired some reasonable proficiency in Sanskrit. This including a couple of non indians who were totally new to anything Indian. So the technique seems to have some merit. The main idea seems to be to always speak in Sanskrit in the class. Yes, really. It sounds preposterous but students have survived that. I am sure there is a technique behind this teaching method, otherwise students will be extremely frustrated. The essence of the technique as I understood it is that a) The context of the conversation in Sanskrit is clearly established ( somehow ) b) repeat, repeat and repeat sentences in context as normal part of the conversation for that context. Contexts can be simple: "Going to someone's house and the small talk that follows, commenting on the weather, talking about your sports team etc.

The students ( young and old ) I talked to were all smiling and seemed to have had a good time. At least I know it was not torture!

How about experimenting with a similar thing here but through writing. One context that we all can relate to and where words and sentences get typically repeated is Concert reviews. What if someone knowledgeable in Sanskrit write or translate very brief concert reviews using simple words. What I am hoping is over time this will increase the familiarity of many words and sentences for this concert review context. Provide a word for word translation in parenthesis where possible. Transliteration into English script is a must. This way those who do not know the Devanagari script can still benefit. Motivated by all this some may take up the task of learning the script but that is a side benefit.

Let us discuss the method to tweak it but more importantly let us get started without worrying about perfection. That will take care of itself over time.

#2 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 02 Nov 2012, 22:49
by cmlover
Learning to speak sanskrit will not help understand the wealth of sanskrit literature already available. The spoken saskrit is now learnt by parrotting ignoring the grammar and structure of the classical language. It takes close to 7 years to master it systematically after practising shabdam and dhatu rUpam. No easy short cuts. Further it is a must to learn Devanagari to study and uderstand sanskrit effectively. The Roman transliteration is a useless short cut which will not help read the wealth of literature available.

The spoken sanskrit now propagated is a cheap gimmick. It is like learning CM in two weeks ignoring the Trinity!

#3 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 02 Nov 2012, 23:04
by vasanthakokilam
CML, that is what people always say and it is a major deterrent to people tipping their toes to test the waters. Even if 1% of such people get more interested after the initial ( imperfect ) experience, we are still better off. It may have had limited success but that does not mean the idea itself is trashy, it can always be improved upon.

Also, for example, I can speak Tamil but I do not know all the grammar. So yes, I can not read some great literature that is in classical tamil alright but that does not mean my Tamil knowledge is a cheap gimmick. Substitute Tamil with any other language. That is why I specifically said that perfection need not be the goal, that can be an outcome over time for those who seek it.

In teaching programming languages, the practice for the past 30+ years is to write a Hello World program and then build various levels of functionality on top of that. There was a time when people thought that programming languages should be taught starting with the grammar but that has long been discarded in favor of getting people started on writing small and simple programs and then build up the complexity. I kind of view these spoken sanskrit methods to be similar ( not identical, of course ).

#4 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 03 Nov 2012, 00:01
by cmlover
I concur with you if Sanskrit is to be used as a language of future communication. Spoken Tamil does not help you to understand/appreciate literary Tamil. Some of us learn Sanskrit to enjoy the vast literature of the past. The quickie may help to get a start as you propose but one still has to invest time to learn to appreciate the beauty of the language which is the hidden treasure!

Rome was not built in a day!

#5 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 03 Nov 2012, 04:50
by Pratyaksham Bala
उत्तम कल्पः (uttama kalpa:) = great idea!

#6 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 03 Nov 2012, 13:00
by Pratyaksham Bala
vasanthakokilam wrote:...The students ( young and old ) I talked to were all smiling ...
Please note the incidental smile in #5 !

#7 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 03 Nov 2012, 14:31
by classicallover
I had already posted in another thread about opportunities to learn spoken Samskritam which drew no response nor any attention maybe.

For a learned person, the new technique of teaching people to speak Samskritam would look like immature attempts. But in these days of unnecessary overdose of western culture & fast paced lifestyle ( especially after the advent of software industry ) how do we instil the sense of belonging in the youth in particular ? They have to be taught the way they can understand and inside the time that they can spare. While memorising the principles and verb forms is inevitable for having an indepth knowledge of the kavyas or shastras, it is very essential to introduce the subject with subtlety like poking the banana with a needle.

Samskrita Bharati has devised the technique of teaching spoken Samskritam in ten days which actually is basic but enough to spur and encourage people to acquire more knowledge systematically. It is dubbed as a " revolutionary method " which may be true in one sense for the uninitiated. Through this movement , ten villages have been converted into Samskritam speaking villages ( including two in Chambal valley ) apart from a lakh of native " Samskritam mother tongue " families.

First of all why don't you all know the definition of the name Samskritam and learn to say Samskritam and not Sanskrit ? The former means " well done " roughly. While the anglicised name has no meaning but could be imagined to mean " not done " approximately if you split as sans-krit.

#8 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 03 Nov 2012, 23:23
by vasanthakokilam
Pratyaksham Bala wrote: vk,Please note the incidental smile in #5 !
Ha..ha.. Noted.
While the anglicised name has no meaning but could be imagined to mean " not done " approximately if you split as sans-krit.
Classicallover: Nice play with words. BTW, I gave full attribution to your post as the reason for this thread, so you do need to feel that your post did not get any attention. I decided to peel it off as a separate thread.

The idea for this thread, as applied to this music forum, is to learn to write in transliterated Sanskirt a few sentences about the concert one attended. ( or translate a few common sentences from the various reviews in the review forum ). This is the path of least resistance. No need to learn devanagari. This is the closest we can come to 'speaking sanskrit' in a predominantly written medium. Let us see where it takes us.

Let us keep it simple, fun, without taking a patronizing tone, not yell and not be a language police.

In other words, keep it fun and not tortuous.

Let us go.

#9 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 04 Nov 2012, 00:17
by vasanthakokilam
Just to get things started and see what will be good starter sentences, I pulled out some statements from the review section. Feel free to modify this as appropriate or use other review related sentences.

Let us focus on some neutral and positive sentiments first.

"Her Thodi Alapanai was extraordinary. "
"The main piece of the concert was Kapali in Mohanam"
"It was a splendid concert."
"It was an excellent concert by <some artist name> with never a dull moment"

Not sure if these will be elementary sentences to start with. If not, please feel free to modify.

#10 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 05 Nov 2012, 07:53
by cmlover
असाधारणा आसीत्‌ तस्या तॊडि आलापना।
(asAdhAraNA AsIt tasyA tODi AlApanA)
मॊहनरागॆ रचित कापाली संगीतप्रदर्शने मुख्य कृति आसीत्‌।
(mOhanarAgE racita kApAlI sangItapradarshanam mukhya kriti AsIt)
उज्ज्वल संगीतप्रदर्शनं आसीत्‌।
(ujjvala sangItapradarshanam AsIt)
निरुत्साहरहित उत्तम संगीतप्रदर्शनं आसीत्‌ श्रीमान्‌ वसंतकॊकिलस्य।
(nirutsAharahita uttama sangItapradarshanam AsIt shrImAn vasantakOkilasya)
Does it help? :D

#11 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 05 Nov 2012, 08:29
by vasanthakokilam
Thanks CML. I do not know what all that means. Transliteration plus word for word meaning please. Then we can tell if it helps or not ;)

#12 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 05 Nov 2012, 08:44
by cmlover
You put me to work :D
Will try soon unless somebody wants to help!
(I am tied up with Obama/Romney for now!)

#13 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 05 Nov 2012, 14:44
by classicallover
BTW, I gave full attribution to your post as the reason for this thread, so you do need to feel that your post did not get any attention.
What I said about attention for my post, it was about the thread : ... 57#p220557 and not the other one seen in this group. It was just a statement. I am neither worried nor affected by either the presence of or lack of attention.

Moreover, literal translation of the English sentences would not help in any way , since, we don't write Indian languages that way. Simple sentences as written by you in English get transformed in Samskritam.

Her Thodi aalaapanaa was extraordinary = तया कृत तोड़िरागस्य आलापन: अत्युत्तम आसीत् | tayaa krita tODiraagasya aalaapanaha atyuttama aasiit |

We can say aalaapanam, aalaapanai, aalaapana in English or Tamil but not so in Samskritam where everything is gender-specific, number-specific and tense-specific.

I am sick of looking at requests for word-wise meanings in so many of the threads. I have expressed in many threads that literal word-to-word meaning & translation is the bane of learning. People have the misconception that it is simpler and or faster to learn or understand that way. It is like trying to get rich fast. You cannot get rich overnight ( money-wise, knowledge-wise or otherwise ) in any field. You have to roll, crawl, totter, stumble, trip and fall many times scratching & hurting the knees & elbows, till you get the hang of it. Instead, wholesome contextual meanings give a better all-round picture of the mood, intentions and passions of the compositions.

#14 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 05 Nov 2012, 20:52
by cmlover
I am in synch with your views. There is no short-cut to learning sanskrit. It is an arduous process. Even in ancient times there were two groups - those who spoke the scholarly version and then the vulgar one (prAkritam). (our srkris will differ with me since he proposes that the scholarly one evolved from the prAkritam). But then our VK is looking for the Suzuki method and I don't blame him.

To illustrate the complexity, my first sentence properly shold be:
असाधारणासीत्तस्या तोड्यालापना।
since sanskrit hates white spaces and sandhi is a must. Without dissolving the sandhi no dictionary (word-for-word) translation is possible! Learning the sandhi rules alone may drive one crazy :D
VK! Are you still there? :D

#15 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 05 Nov 2012, 21:01
by vasanthakokilam
>I am sick of looking at requests for word-wise meanings in so many of the threads.

It is not peasant to hear that we make you feel that way. Take it easy please, will you? When I say word for word meaning, treat it as someone who does not know what he is talking about and adapt it to the Sanskrit context. Do not take that literally.

For example, all the stuff you are referring to are the very stuff we will learn. Yes, Sanskrit words are like sentences in other languages, smashed into a word with no spaces! BTW, it is not too dissimilar to German ( and not identical obviously ) and I somehow do not expect German speakers to make it a bigger deal than what it is.

Those are the things I had in mind when I said 'Make it fun and not tortuous'.

People, in general do not make it more complicated than what it is and then make it simple. It should be possible to take baby steps.
And believe me, there are lot of people out there in world and many in our membership who have learned mind-bending tough subject matter in their own fields and so learning something challenging is not new, but you can't dump all that complexity in the learning process. There are many paths to learning a tough subject matter and sometimes you have to shed the conservative view and try a few different things. Conservatism can be stifling at times.

Having said all that, thanks classicallover for ' tayaa krita tODiraagasya aalaapanaha atyuttama aasiit |'
Now let us parse this and we will learn something :)

#16 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 06 Nov 2012, 13:02
by classicallover

The intention in posting some matter in this Samskritam sub-forum was a last attempt from my side to see if something useful can be discussed and or learnt. Before this thread, I had a good mind to quit this forum and was on the verge of telling the mods or admin to deactivate my account ( since there are many other better things to do and achieve in this short life ), having been disenchanted by the abysmally low knowledge quotient & receptivity of the forum ( which is surviving because of only a handful few who have some substance ) and the undesirable quixotic tantrums thrown up and the slanderous language used by many of the members eager to impose their own misconceived notions on others. Even now I don't mind if I am locked out of the forum for having said this.

You missed one point - the main one. Many may have achieved or learnt and became " learned " in their own fields. But after how many arduous & gruelling years ? That too must have been done when they were at their learning best , i.e., before their middle age.The learning curve is different for different people.

But what I said about learning Samskritam was , inspite of the complexity of the usages in the language and that there was no substitute for experience, there are methods developed which can introduce to the fresh adult students of these days the niceties of the language in the way they understand, within the time frame they can spare for such an activity. Short cuts to learning will cut short the learning process. But it depends on us to develop our knowledge further from the introductory short cut learning process taking it as a cue. The Honda process of " fill it & forget it " - not Suzuki as cml said, only makes you forget the things learnt as soon as you leave the class.

I do not know why you brought the Germans into this . But for your info or reminder, they don't like to be called German but Deutsche. That even they are in awe of Samskritam is well known. German has four cases - Nominativ, Accusativ, Dativ & Genetiv. Russian has five atleast. Samskritam has eight cases ( seven main plus one for addressing ). This is compounded by the presence & importance of the dual number and the ten tenses.

Prakritam is not one language either. There were many and were region specific. They were essentially dialects of Samskritam. For example, today we know that, Maithili, Haryanvi, Chattisgarhi, Bhojpuri, Pahadi, etc are dialects of Hindi. Some of them may evolve into languages but cannot deny their link to Hindi at any time later.

#17 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 06 Nov 2012, 21:02
by cmlover
भॊ! भवतः निर्गमनं कदापि न चिंतयतॆ।
यतः वारंवारं स्वागतं तॆ॥
I agree Sanskrit (Which is the English translation of samskritam) was the mother of all languages in the Indian sub continent except for the Dravidian languages. The southern languages evolved from proto-Tamil largely influenced by Sanskrit but Tamil still maintains its individuality. However Tamil is fast degrading into Tanglish :D

#18 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 06 Nov 2012, 21:45
by vasanthakokilam
classicallover, I think it is a matter of attitude of the individuals. If you perceive us as a bunch of nimrods who do not deserve your time, you will definitely suffer and want to get out of here. The attitude that works in forums like this is share, discuss, debate, contribute and learn.Evaluate the cost/benefit ratio to decide it is worth your time from that perspective. And it will also help if one refrains from nit-picking and pulling out a strawman part of a debate and beating it to death rather than the main issue. This happens quite a bit and a lot of time energy is spent on sorting those semantics. A bit of empathy for the opinion of others and a general attitude of giving the benefit of the doubt to others are better hygiene practices for one's own well being ;)

Let me tell you from my own experience: Approach it from the angle I mentioned while encountering attitudes from others which can range from greatness, genius, average, mundane,stupidity, comedic, tantrum-prone, silliness to arrogance and stuff in between. Namely, view all this with some humbleness, tolerance and empathy. If I do that, it is indeed worthwhile and the cost/benefit ratio is in favor. More than anything, you will learn a lot about yourself ;).

It is up to each individual of course. There are a few great contributors who have left in disgust and I know there are several silent consumers who feel some void if they do not visit here once in a while. And several shades of grey in between. You probably know all this already, so advances apologies for any annoyance caused by my preaching tone.

Anyway, that is just to address the point you made about the general stuff.

Now, on Sanskrit itself, I do not think you are saying anything that is drastically different from what I am saying at a conceptual level, the differences are indeed in the details. In fact, together they are quite distant from the position that CML was taking. I was only annoyed at you blowing up on a simple matter of my mentioning 'word for word'.

The essence of my idea for this thread is the following. This is hardly original. These can be bashed as a short cut or a Honda or Suzuki method etc. but nevertheless, here it is. Once we learn sentences that are in the domain of what we can relate to in this forum ( concert and music related matters ) and the 'parsed' structure of them and the meaning are learned, and once we have enough of them, other sentences will start to make sense automatically. That is the hope. We will see how it works out in practice. We may have to fine tune it. The belief is, if something looks 100% undecipherable, it is a lost cause, there is not much automatic motivation to dig in there. But if it is, say 40-70% decipherable, one will be motivated to look up the rest. Over time, they can fill in the holes with theory. Basically in this method, practice comes first, then theory. ( In that sense, I agree with CML it feels like the Suzuki method..Calling Suzuki method a short cut is a big disservice..Anyway that is a different topic )

The reason I mentioned German is not to compare it to Sanskrit in terms of features/complexity but the fact many German words look long because they are a bunch of words smashed together without spaces with some sandhi rules.

Hope this clarifies at least something.

#19 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 07 Nov 2012, 13:00
by classicallover

About the general stuff :

I said that this was my last ditch effort to hang on, based solely on the principle " knowledge or atleast info can come from any source , however big or small " . If this also turns out to be dead end, then the option to abstain or quit is there anyhow ! If I have to know something, I need not login. I am aware of the broad spectrum of attitudes ( greatness to silliness ) that you mentioned and which is not special only to this forum but elsewhere too. But I stressed that I was apalled at the quality and number of posts to the lower end. The virtues of empathy, benefit of doubt, etc that you mentioned also are consequently BPL or BEL ( not Philips ! ) ;) ;) . L :o k at yourself getting annoyed at my saying that we should become " world-wise " and not word-wise !! :( Everyone must respond to others keeping in my mind that there may be some truth or reason for their statements and that this is a very dispassionate medium , capable of expressing only very limited feelings, but not definitely all the emotions or passions or opinions intended, which can only be achieved after personal interaction.

As for Samskritam :

Did you see the link to the other thread of mine ? This is to clarify that, inspite of the complexities involved in learning Samskritam, there are methods developed and practised by so many organisations to spread , teach and preach the language , in a suitable or palatable fashion to the new, uninitiated, adult student however less interested he may be, introducing the concept, pricking their enthusiasm & conscience . That way is the spoken way which uses no blackboard and homework to memorise things in the beginning itself, giving them an opportunity to build upon the base. This method has fetched results in the form of more than one lakh native Samskritam speaking families from birth, around 10 Samskritam speaking villages ( inspite of illiteracy ) , atleast 20 grammarians of repute, etc.. Did you notice the difference in the sentences given by me and CML for " her todi ..." .

#20 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 07 Nov 2012, 21:18
by cmlover
Here is the word-for word translation of the sentences by classicallover and myself
तया = By her
कृत = done
तोड़िरागस्य = of the Todi raga
आलापन: = alaapana
अत्युत्तम = very superb
आसीत् = was

असाधारणा = uncommon/extraordinary
आसीत्‌ = was
तस्या =(of) her
तॊडि = Todi
आलापना = alaapana

Can you guess the fundamental difference in our approaches?

#21 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 08 Nov 2012, 12:53
by vasanthakokilam
Thanks both of you. We are now getting somewhere.

But I did not realize you two will be asking me questions ;) Hope others join too, I do not want this to be just a three player game.

Unfortunatley, I had to gloss over CML's 4 sentences before because he did not provide transliteration. I can barely keep up with reading devanagari. So please do provide transliteration.

CML's translation helps quite a bit towards seeing the differences in each of your statements.

Differences? I see the differences in word order. Fundamental differences? They have different structures
<something> done by <someone> is <an adjective>
<her> < something> is < an adjective >

Is that the fundamental difference you are referring to? In any case, please do elaborate. Thanks.

#22 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 08 Nov 2012, 16:13
by classicallover

This is not intended to be a two against one game.

" It was extraordinary " is the main phrase. The rest forms the dependent adjective phrase. So in both our versions " atyuttama aasiith " is the main phrase. Rest is dependent but qualifies the main phrase.

In my version, the subject or karta is in the third case while it was in sixth case in CML's.

It is a case of different strategies you can say. For a beginner, my sentence would be a little longer and possibly simpler while CML's would be tougher. This is the aspect that I was trying to bring out in my previous posts. My sentence would be like passive voice and CML's like active voice.

While CML made it " aalaapanaa " as feminine , I retained the masculine form aalaapana: . Even aalaapa: would be enough as is ' aalaap ' in Hindustani music.

#23 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 09 Nov 2012, 00:08
by cmlover
I have added the transliterations. However the first step inlearning a language is to learn the scripts. Otherwise you lose all the collected wisdom available in that language...

clasicallover has nicely explained the difference. The key is his translation is in the passive voice and mine is in the active. It is customary to use the passive form as far as possible in the sanskrit language. That is the "quirk" of that language. Notice that mine is almost a word-for-word translation into sanskrit which is artificial but the learner can relate. I am thinking in English to sanskrit here whereas classicallover is thinking the idea in native sanskrit.

you cannot learn a language through translations or word-for word mappings

Finally it is futile to pursue this exercise at the Forum if there is no general interest. We can do it at leisure through email!

#24 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 09 Nov 2012, 04:18
by vasanthakokilam
>shrImAn vasantakOkilasya

Ha.. See I did not pick that up in that whole lot of devanagari, though if my eyes wandered over there, I would have spotted it ( I can read with difficulty but that too not 100% ).

I am getting the hang of it and understand the grammatical difference.

>you cannot learn a language through translations or word-for word mappings

Well, we will see. I already know आसीत् ( AsIt ) = was since it occurred so many times in the same form with the same meaning.

Let me stretch my luck. Would this be correct?

nirutsAharahita uttama AsIt tasyA tODi AlApanA ( her todi alapana was without any dull moment )

#25 Re: Let us learn some Sanskrit

Posted: 09 Nov 2012, 05:49
by cmlover
sAdhu! sAdhu! (Well done!)
shIghragrAhi (quick grasper) tvamasi (tvam asi =you are)